“And David said to Ornan, ‘Give me the site of the threshing floor that I may build on it an altar to the LORD—give it to me at its full price—that the plague may be averted from the people.’ Then Ornan said to David, ‘Take it, and let my lord the king do what seems good to him. See, I give the oxen for burnt offerings and the threshing sledges for the wood and the wheat for a grain offering; I give it all.’ But King David said to Ornan, ‘No, but I will buy them for the full price.
I will not take for the LORD what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’”
1 Chronicles 21:22-24
I love seeing the hearts of these men in this passage. Ornan, readily offering all for service to the Lord at no cost to David. His words, “I give it all,” strike my heart – he withholds nothing and asks for nothing in return. Perhaps it was the culturally appropriate response to the king’s request, but the heartfelt detail of what he offered for use, “oxen for burnt offerings…threshing sledges for the wood…wheat for a grain offering,” point to a deeper reverence for God within his statement.
And David…Scripture reveals the flaws in this man whom God said was a man after His own heart. The truth of God’s declaration, I believe, is seen in part in the sincere repentance David exhibits when he realizes his sin. David’s insistence here to purchase the property at its full price, and specifically his emphasis that he will not “offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing,” bring to mind words written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship: God’s grace to us “is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us…it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.”
David saw what we often fail to recognize: God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness are not to be taken lightly. Those with truly repentant hearts do not shrug, duck the head, voice a quick apology, and then go on with no further thought. No – repentant hearts mourn the breaking of relationship. They allow the Spirit of God to reveal the depth and danger of sin, not to make them wallow in shame or despair, but to rid them of sin’s destructive cost and free them to live joyful, abundant lives. Repentance brings healing and wholeness. It reconnects us with this magnificent God who did not consider His own Son too dear a price. And it opens our eyes to the wonder of that Son’s love, that Jesus did not consider His own life too dear, but determined to go to the cross and willingly offered Himself.
Oh, let our hearts rejoice at this costly grace, and recognize that giving our all to this One who gave His all to save us is not losing; it is gaining everything worth having, everything that will quench our thirsty souls.
Cheap grace – claimed without repentance, without commitment, without time and energy devoted to seeking God and loving Him with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength – it is empty. It doesn’t fill us, doesn’t heal us, doesn’t enliven our hearts, embolden our faith, or enlighten our eyes.
It doesn’t save.
It is costly grace that saves us. Grace that demanded much of God, and grace that inspires a beautiful, surrendered response like David’s.
Lord God, may I not seek a cheap, easy way out of conviction. Fill my heart with wonder that You have taken my iniquity away and clothed me with pure garments (Zechariah 3:4), that You have saved me through the shed blood of Jesus and will never break that covenant. Open my eyes to see the depths of what You have saved me from. Not just consequences avoided, but the depth of sin’s evil itself. Effects seen in life’s pain and difficulties, in sickness and death, in nature’s thorns, harsh weather, and unforgiving landscapes. Sin did that. Sin brought brokenness into Your perfect creation. Break my heart with how I have broken Yours. And mend it together in Your beautiful way, shining light into all dark places and making me whole. May I be radiant in joyful freedom, for You set me free from sin’s bondage. And in that freedom, may my life reflect Your heart, pursuing You always and pouring out my life in love toward others.